The Making of the Colors

Tuesday evening, Nov 17th , 1861
Stagecoach Inn
Fairfield, Utah Territory
My dearest brother,
scoutJanne_duoI received your letter of September and I need not tell you how glad I have been to hear from you.  Tho, I am wary of your joinin up, I am not surprised. After your letter arrived, a newspaper account told of a volunteer infantry rgt. from Ohio called the “Forty Ninth” that formed up in Seneca County at Tiffin.  Last I heard, the Forty Ninth was settled into Camp Nevin on Nolin Creek.  I suppose you are with them there. I must put faith in your steadfast skill and will ask for the Lord’s grace in watching over you. I hope that today’s newspaper will bring more news of you. We hear that typhoid is among you. You cannot be to careful about keeping yourself dry, as exposure to damp and wet cloths is cause for the disease.  Jeffrey, if at any time you have the care of the sick be very careful that you get fresh air. Do not stand or sit betwen a sick person and the draught of air, such as an open door or window or even the fire, and do not wait upon the sick with an empty stomach.  My heart could not be heavier. I know you must be bustin with pride to set your honor with others from home who will be with you to protect and also comfort.  My words may be to late to be of any consequence to you, and so I pray.
49thOVflagUpon your news, I made promise to sew your colors, a flag to be the most glorified colors carried for the cause and to return safely back home again. That is how I came to be here at the stage stop.  I traded several hand stitched items for the finest silken cloth from the Dry Goods at Ft. Bridger, Wyoming Territory.  I wanted to stitch this myself, but could not.  It pains me to say, but my swollen hands have been much to painful for such sewing. I learned of a milliner near the stage stop with a new Singer machine that sews in scarcely the time of hand stitching.  As the cloth had been delivered to the stage stop, and with a milliner nearby, I thought it a useful journey so I could send these colors to you swiftly. I arrived at the stop three days ago, and found the milliner. Her name is Malawna  and she is with one of the few families that had stayed behind in Fairfield after the Camp was abandoned. I was quite surprised this morning with her calling at the inn with the colors completed. I did not imagine her work could be rushed so.  Even so, I can say with all confidence she does need some practice with her method, her stitches in some places are scarcely above that of hand work.  Even though my hands suffer, I could not bear not to repare some of them, and so I was obliged to pik and pull out some stiches on my own.  As I was doin so, a young man came through the sitting room, and upon seeing me workin with such purpose, offered his compliments and his service to make a photograph for the occasion. He had met the gentleman Samuel Mills from the Simpson Expedition while at Ft. Bridger in Wyoming Territory, and learned the method of photography from him.  He hopes to sell to Harper’s Weekly, and perhaps travel east to take photographs of battle, and offered one to me in exchange for the sitting.  I was truly embarrassed he had the idea I had stitched the entire flag, but he was so persuasive, I said yes!  I am sending you the photograph to press in your bible.  Carry these colors proudly and think of your sister at home.
ponyexpressI hoped to have written last evening, but weary from my journey, I retired without supper.  This morn I enjoyed breakfast in the dining room overlooking Camp Crittenden.  Oh, it is a lonely sight now.  When the outbreak of Utah’s War was hushed, the soldiers sent by the government remained posted here at the Camp on routine duty.  In July, they were called east and abandoned the Camp.  It is ghostly now. Malawna and the families are putting their best towards the inn and the stage line, but there is little to do now since the new telegraph has stopped the Pony Express riders running.  There is little need to travel to this remote establishment for their services, except for a few traveling though on the stage, and then, there is little reason to stay.
letterI have such wonder for the new stage mail.  I heard it is not as reliable as the Pony Express riders.  The stagecoaches are bundled down with so much mail there is scarcely room for the paying passengers.  A breakdown was blamed on the weight of the mail, the driver threw half the mailbags onto the prairie and kept right on going.  Lord knows who’s wondering “why don’t they write?”  No one will ever do better than that young fellow Cody, who rode the longest ride in the fastest time from Red Buttes Station to Rocky Ridge Station and back without stopping!
Well brother, I must close and rest.  I will send this in the morning to you on the east bound stage, and then be making my way back home.  I surely hope that this letter will find its way to you. I pray that you and the glorious Forty Ninth are well in the Lord’s hands, and you will find your way safely back to me.
Your loving sister,

A huge “thanks” to Janne “Scout” Nielson, for making our national colors!
She and her husband, Jake, are living history reenactors of the Mountain Man
era in the Rocky Mountains.